Friday, January 13, 2006

I'm thinking of a phrase from Michael Lewis' "Liar's Poker." Anyone else know where I'm going?

Wherein I waste couple minutes while finishing my latte and scone

The Kennedy/Alito/Specter slapfast is still getting much attention, so I thought I'd whip out the 'ol shrink-a-lator and see what we see. Will a particularly brilliant insight into the political process be revealed or is this just an excuse to create a post without really writing anything? I'm betting on the latter.

I am working from the transcripts provided by the NY Times.

Copied into MS Word, the exchange covers eight pages (10 pt, Ariel). I'll offer two versions. The first is summarizes the entire exchange to 5% of the original. This reduces the original 3,723 words to 185 words:
KENNEDY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
ALITO: Well, Senator...
KENNEDY: Well, if...
KENNEDY: We’ll come back. In the time that I have, Judge Alito, I listened carefully to responses you gave to Senator Leahy about the CAP organization at Princeton.
KENNEDY: You called CAP a conservative alumni group.
KENNEDY: If the senator will let me just...
ALITO: Hard to imagine.
KENNEDY: Did you read the New York Times?
KENNEDY: You think these are conservative views?
ALITO: Senator, whatever I knew about this organization in 1985, I identified as conservative.
ALITO: Senator, if I...
KENNEDY: So...
ALITO: I’m sorry.
KENNEDY: But the -- briefly, please.
KENNEDY: Well, Mr. Chairman, my time is running out.
KENNEDY: And I want to do that at an appropriate time.
SPECTER: Well, we’ll consider that, Senator Kennedy.
KENNEDY: You did get a letter.
KENNEDY: Yes I do, Senator, since I sent it.
SPECTER: Well, the sender does not necessarily know what the recipient gets, Senator Kennedy.
KENNEDY: I renew my request, Senator.
SPECTER: Well, don’t be premature, Senator Kennedy. Senator Grassley...
SPECTER: There has been no ruling of the chair, Senator Kennedy.


That isn't bad. I think that fairly captures the steamroller approach of Kennedy. The next version is a bit more work. I've separated the exchanged into three parts: Kennedy, Alito, Specter. Then each Senator's speech is summarized on it's own. I've summarized each to 10%:
Kennedy
How long, when you made that pledge and that promise to the committee, how long did you intend to keep it?
Well, if...
Mr. Chairman. What did you intend at the time that you made the pledge? What was in your mind at that time? I’m interested in what’s in your mind at this time, but what was in your mind at that time?
In the time that I have, Judge Alito, I listened carefully to responses you gave to Senator Leahy about the CAP organization at Princeton. You called CAP a conservative alumni group. It also published a publication called Prospect, which includes articles by CAP members about the policies that the organization promoted. Did you read that article?
If the senator will let me just...
Were you aware of that at the time of the job application?
In 1980, the New York Times article about the coeducation of Princeton, CAP is described as an organization against the admittance of women. ROTC was a fairly contentious issue on Princeton campus in the early 1970s. Here’s the Prospect, 1985: ROTC is popular again. Well, Mr. Chairman, my time is running out. Last month, I sent a letter to Senator Specter asking a number of questions about your membership in CAP. I renew my request, Senator.


Alito
Well, Senator...
Senator, I did not rely on that time limitation in relation to what I did in the Monga case. Looking at the question now, where it says initial period of service, I would say that 12 years later is not the initial period of service. It refers to the initial period of service. I don’t recall seeing the magazine. I would never endorse it. There’s talk about eating clubs, about all-male eating clubs. There’s talk about the admission of alumni children. Senator, whatever I knew about this organization in 1985, I identified as conservative. Senator, if I...
I’ve wracked my memory and I can’t recall anything.


Specter
Well, we’ll consider that, Senator Kennedy. Well, don’t be premature, Senator Kennedy. Senator Grassley...
There has been no ruling of the chair, Senator Kennedy.

I think that's prefectly clear.

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